Congress is about to open a real-time window into its members’ stock trades, real estate deals and other financial transactions, allowing anyone to view the information online within weeks of the investments.
The frequent reporting requirement also will cover top congressional aides and other senior government officials, including the president and the vice president — about 28,000 executive branch employees by one count.
Making lawmakers and other officials report their investment transactions every 30 days or 45 days, depending on the final language, is a key component of legislation explicitly prohibiting them from trading on insider information.
Both the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved different versions this month, and final passage is expected soon. The next step is up to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, who can bring the House’s slightly narrower version to a vote or let a House-Senate conference work out the differences.
Mr. Reid told reporters Tuesday that he wants the bill to go to a conference. However, he said it would take three procedural votes — each needing a supermajority of 60 — to take that step unless there is unanimous consent to move in that direction. It is unclear whether the agreement will be unanimous, leaving the next move uncertain.
Insider trading already is illegal, and there is no exemption for government officials. But the perception persists that it’s taking place in the halls of Congress, perpetuated by occasional investigations and media reports of key lawmakers buying, selling or holding stocks or real estate in areas where they influence policy.
The Office of Congressional Ethics is looking at the trading activities of Rep. Spencer Bachus, Alabama Republican. In the two months surrounding the 2008 financial collapse and subsequent $700 billion bailout enacted by Congress, he made more than three dozen trades.
Federal court issues new political maps
SAN ANTONIO — A federal court in San Antonio has issued new congressional and state House maps in time for Texas to hold a May 29 primary.
The ruling by a three-judge panel Tuesday could clear the way for elections, if none of the nine groups contesting the state’s political districts files an appeal.
Time is running out for Texas to hold primaries, and the maps are intended to get Texas through the 2012 election cycle. Minority groups have accused the Republican-controlled Legislature of drawing maps that discriminated against them. The state’s leaders say the maps merely give Republicans an advantage in the next election.
The latest maps were created after months or legal wrangling, including the U.S. Supreme Court throwing out the last set of maps that the San Antonio judges drew.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports